Former Cleveland councilwoman charged in county corruption probe

7:01 PM, Sep 29, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- A federal grand jury has charged former Cleveland City Councilwoman Sabra Pierce Scott for conspiracy to commit bribery in the ongoing Cuyahoga County corruption probe.

The criminal bill of information refers to alleged actions taken while she was on Cleveland City Council. An information usually means the defendant is cooperating with federal officials.

She resigned suddenly from council in 2009. She had been on council since 2001. She became the 2009 campaign manager for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's reelection bid.

Jackson is currently in Japan consulting with a company about a trash-to-energy project for Cleveland.

"I served with Sabra as council president and as mayor," Jackson said. "Sabra provided great leadership in Cleveland City Council. In addition, she managed my campaign in 2009 and did an outstanding job. I considered her a friend then and consider her a friend now."

She is charged with conspiring with "Business Executive 10," identified in other court subpoenas and documents as the former "Business 14" president and owner and leading executive of "Business 42."

Business 14 was an electrical and technology contracting company located in Bedford Heights that was engaged in a development project in the City of Cleveland valued at approximately $120 million in 2006.

The information reads that, from on or about April 7, 2005 and continuing through on or about March 12, 2007, the exact dates being unknown Scott and BE10, who is not charged in this indictment, did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate and agree with each other to commit an offense.

Scott is alleged to have asked for and accepted things of value from BE10, in each of the years April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2006, and April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007.

That was during the Cleveland City Council legislation and the City of Cleveland's promotion of Business 42's development project.

Scott is alleged to have gotten $2,000 in cash, which she used to pay her daughter's tuition, and a job for her son at Business 14.

Federal officials are alleging a conspiracy and it was part of the conspiracy that Scott used her position as a member of Cleveland City Council to solicit and accept things of value from BE10, knowing that BE10 wanted Defendant's support for Business 42's development project in the City of Cleveland.

Federal officals say Scott supported Business 42's development project by, among other things, (1) meeting with BE10 and his colleagues, (2) meeting with property owners in the area to discuss the benefits of the development project, (3) guiding legislation in support of the project through Cleveland City Council Committees, (4) 3 enlisting support for the project with her fellow Council members, (5) supporting the project at public meetings, and in the community whenever possible and (6) otherwise assisting BE10 obtain funding for the project.

The information also alleges that Scott, in or around July 2005, and BE10 had a conversation in which BE10 told her he was looking for minority employees to work on a project another business had been contracted to perform.

Scott was Council Majority Leader.

Council Spokesman Jim Kopniske said in a statement, "Sabra Pierce Scott served two terms on Cleveland CIty Council from November 2001 until April 2009. As a council member, she had a solid track record of service to her ward and to our city. The ordinance in question in the charges, Ord. 2006-06, was introduced by the Jackson Administration and was supported by Council as a unanimous vote to grant tax increment financing for the development for of the Veterans Administration Hospital project."

Her attorney, Virginia Davidson, of Calfee, Halter & Griswold, issued this statement:

"She went too far in an effort to succeed. She went too far in an effort to help her kids succeed. She knows that. She takes full responsibility."


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